S3 Intelligent Tiering

S3 Intelligent Tiering is an Amazon storage class. Amazon S3 offers a range of storage classes for different uses. S3 Intelligent Tiering is a storage class aimed at data with unknown or unpredictable data access patterns. It was introduced in 2018 by AWS as a solution for customers who want to optimize storage costs automatically when their data access patterns change.

Instead of utilizing the other Amazon S3 storage classes and moving data across them based on the needs of the data, Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering is a distinct storage class that has embedded tiers within it and data can automatically move across the four access tiers when access patterns change.

To fully understand what S3 Intelligent Tiering offers it is important to have an overview of all the classes available through S3:

Classes of AWS S3 Storage

  1. Standard (S3) – Used for frequently accessed data (hot data)
  2. Standard-Infrequent Access (S3-IA) – Used for infrequently accessed, long-lived data that needs to be retained but is not being actively used
  3. One Zone Infrequent Access – Used for infrequently accessed data that’s long-lived but not critical enough to be covered by storage redundancies across multiple locations
  4. Intelligent Tiering – Used for data with changing access patterns or uncertain need of access
  5. Glacier – Used to archive infrequently accessed, long-lived data (cold data) Glacier has a latency of a few hours to retrieve
  6. Glacier Deep Archive – Used for data that is hardly ever or never accessed and for digital preservation purposes for regulatory compliance

Image showing Amazon Web Services logo

What is S3 Intelligent Tiering?

S3 Intelligent Tiering is a storage class that has multiple tiers embedded within it, each with its own access latencies and costs – it is an automated service that monitors your data access behavior and then moves your data on a per-object basis to the appropriate level of tier within the S3 Intelligent Tiering storage class. If your object has not been accessed for 30 consecutive days it will automatically move to the infrequent access tier within S3 Intelligent Tiering, and if the object is not accessed for 90 consecutive days it will automatically move the object to the Archive Access tier and then after 190 consecutive days to the Deep Archive access tier. If an object is moved to the archive tier, the retrieval can take 3 to 5 hours and if it is in the deep archive tier it can take 12 hours. and if it is then subsequently accessed it will move it into the frequently accessed storage class.

What are the costs of AWS S3 Intelligent Tiering?

You pay for monthly storage, request and data transfer. When using Intelligent-Tiering you also pay for a monthly per-object fee for monitoring and automation. While there is no retrieval fee in S3 Intelligent-Tiering and no fee for moving data between tiers, you do not manipulate each tier directly. S3 Intelligent Tier is a bucket, and it has tiers within it that objects move through. Objects in the Frequent Access tier are billed at the same rate as S3 Standard, objects stored in the Infrequent Access tier are billed at the same rate as S3 Standard Infrequent Access, objects stored in the Archive Access tier are billed at the same rate as S3 Glacier and objects stored in the Deep Archive access tier are billed at the same rate as S3 Deep Glacier.

What are the advantages of S3 Intelligent tiering?

The advantages of S3 Intelligent tiering are that savings can be made. There is no operational overhead, and there are no retrieval costs. Objects can be assigned a tier upon upload and then move between tiers based on access patterns. There is no impact on performance and it is designed for 99.999999999% durability and 99.9% availability over annual average.

What are the disadvantages of S3 Intelligent tiering?

The main disadvantage of S3 Intelligent Tiering is that it acts as a black-box – you move objects into it and cannot transparently access different tiers or set different versioning policies for the different tiers. You have to manipulate the whole of S3 Intelligent Tier as a single bucket. For example, if you want to transition an object that has versioning enabled, then you have to transition all the versions. Also, when objects move to the archive tiers, the latency of access is much higher than the access tiers. Not all applications may be able to deal with the high latency.

S3 Intelligent tiering is not suitable for companies with predictable data access behavior or companies that want to control data access, versioning, etc with transparency . Other disadvantages are that it is limited to objects, and cannot tier from files to objects, the minimum object storage requirement is 30 days, objects smaller than 128kb are never moved from the frequent access tier and lastly, because it is an automated system, you cannot configure different policies for different groups.

S3 Data Management with Komprise

Komprise is an AWS Advance Tier partner and can offer intelligent data management with visibility, transparency and cost savings on AWS file and object data. How is this done? Komprise enables analytics-driven intelligent tiering across EFS, FSX, S3 and Glacier storage classes in AWS so you can maximize price performance across all your data on Amazon. The Komprise mission is to radically simplify data management through intelligent automation.

Schedule a Demo

Related Terms

Getting Started with Komprise:

Contact | Demo